Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations


Category: Tales

Nanabozo, the Friend of Men, did all he could to make the life of the Indians happier, and when he had done every­thing that was in his power, he decided to leave them and let them live by themselves. He was a wise man and he knew that easy life did not make people stronger. He had taught the Indians many lessons and now it was time to let them show how they had learned these lessons.

So one day Nanabozo told his kinsmen that he was leaving the country and that, before he left, he would grant one wish to all who asked. Many people came to him and he gave them what they asked for. The last to come to him were four hunters who had been in the woods and could not come earlier.

Nanabozo asked the men what were their wishes. The first man said that his heart was evil and that anger often made him his slave, but that he wished to be kind-hearted. Nanabozo granted this wish with great pleasure. The second man, who was ugly and could not sing because of his coarse voice, asked Nanabozo to make him handsome and to give him a pleasant voice so that he could be a favour­ite among the girls of the village. Nanabozo granted this wish too. The third man was poor and wanted to be rich. Nanabozo made him a rich man at once. The fourth, and the last one, who was rich and handsome and who loved himself more than enybody else, asked Nanabozo to give him eternal life, because he thought that such a man as himself should live for ever.

“Do you want to live in the hearts of men or before their eyes?” asked Nanabozo.

“Of course, before their eyes,” answered the proud man. “What do I care for their hearts!”

“Indeed, what do you care for the hearts of men, you, whose own heart is of stone! You shall be a stone and as a stone you will live for ever! Let this be a warning to those who think too much of themselves.”

And Nanabozo changed the man into a large rock which to this day stands on the shore of the lake Gitchee-Gumee.

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